Recent History (October)

I went to a board meeting at the country home of one of the other board members. It was about one and half hours outside of DC. The drive got prettier and prettier and ended on a large piece of farmland on top of a hill. Lovely home with lots of glass and beautiful views. We passed a road called Snikersville Parkway and I made Dana pull over so I could take a picture. Snickersville is what we call the street where my mom grew up. The real street name is unpronounceable by humans. Anyway this Snickersville was named after William Edward Snickers (born about 1735 - died 1790) who owned land in the area and operated a ferry and a tavern on the Shenandoah River.

road sign blumont house

bluemont driveway with trees bluemont garden

bluemont doorbell

Here are some late fall flowers that were hanging in there on my balcony

red flowerpurple flowerpink cosmos

Several family members and high school friend Karen were in DC for Dana's concert. We went to the National Gallery East Wing to see a Munch exhibit and then had lunch at the American Art museum.

east wing national gallery karen and laura

This is a magical little causeway going from the backstage area of the dance theater to the front entrance. It seemed like a secret.

dance place alley


The little girl on the third floor has new art and an environmental message on her door! The art seems to be made of dried flowers, yarn and construction paper. The installation features a note suggesting that I knock rather than ring the door bell to save electricity.

3rd florr art installation 3rd florr art installation closeup

I participated in a photography project (not contest) at my work (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - GSFC). The instructions were to take photos around the center during a particular week and then the photos would be featured on the GSFC website as Pictures of the Day and on their Flickr site. So on my way to a meeting I took along my camera and took some shots. I submitted one of the photos but so far it has not shown up anywhere. The project was open to all employees and was widely advertised so I am sure many people participated. I am not sure why they are not posting the pics

Anyway here are some pictures I took but did NOT submit but I kind of like. GSFC is actually a beautiful "campus" with forests and ponds, wild and not wild flowers, deer, geese, fox, woodchucks and bunnies. The buildings are fairly boring and are named boringly, eg. Building 1, Building 2. The most recently built building is named Building 34. I work in Building 22. But many buildings have interesting satellite/radio dishes on top so my idea was to show the nature and the technology.

moon and tower at gsfc birds around the electical stuff at gsfc
The moon and some sort of tower. An electrical station with birds.
dish framed by tree flower with dish behind it
Dish on top of Bldg 8 framed by cars and a tree. Flower in same shape as dish on top of Bldg 23.
gsfc exhaust pipes
Exhaust pipes on Bldg 22

Below is the photo I submitted. I crouched behind some planted wild flowers that were being blown rather harshly by the wind and took a picture of the dish on top of Building 8.

dish through flowers

Have you given up on me?

It's been a while so let's catch up.

Austin and William hosted a wonderful Fish Fry at the end of July. Graeme was here for Camp DC and Lenore and my parents came for the event.

We had a wonderfully special dinner the night before with Woody and Patrick at Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, an Italian restaurant downtown. Word got out that I had a recent birthday and I was surprised by a fancy dessert. I can't remember if the waiters sang or not.

illuminated birthday dessert birthday dessert plate

Austin's Fish fry was fun. Tracy's son and his family, Ellen and Sam, Mark and Allen, Earnest and Pam, Craig were there for the great food and fun.

frying fishSam, To and Ellen
Tracy, Justin and Austin frying. Sam and Ellen pose with the dishwasher.

ellen knittingingrid rocking
Ellen knitting and Ingrid rocking

kitchen chaos talking table
Fun kitchen scene. Talking movies.

ernest and pam
Pam and Ernest

Rachel and Ethan


Shortly after this party Kevin's seizures became more frequent and he had to be hospitalized. He is currently in a coma. The family is as hopeful as possible. It is truly heartbreaking. We are keeping Kevin in our thought and prayers.

electron microscopeskeletons of children
Museum of Medicine at Walter Reed
One of the first electron microscopes and creepily wonderful child skeletons

Below are some sites in the neighborhood and around town

hummingbird 1hummingfaceon_thummingflap_t
wind effectsambulance
kickin chicken in rockvilleBeltway apples

A week in July - Edisto 2010

For our week at Edisto this year we were Susan E, Susan L, David, Hunter, Hunter's girlfriend Maddy, Graeme, Carson and me. Andrea and Lane were busy doing 20 something activities that involved the Oregon Wilderness and youngsters from Eurasia.

As in the past couple of times we've gotten together David served up amazing vintage cocktails and as in the past 10 years (for me; it goes back to the 80s for the Susans and David) we updated our "Lust List". In the past we have done nature walks, some more successful (ie, less mosquitos) than others but this year we found a true gem in Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area.
It is a large piece of land that once contained two plantations. The owner left the land to the state when she died and they have made it a wonderful place to drive/walk through and explore. We saw snakes, alligators, huge frogs and many birds. The plantations are no longer there save a few bricks, some small buildings and a well but the marsh, ponds, fields, forests and beach are amazing.


  • A new and improved rental house - filled with light and a bit bigger than the one we've stayed in the last couple of years.
  • Keeping one eye on the alligator in the middle of the pond as we ran around taunting the huge kitsch-like frogs.
  • Maddy actually getting Hunter to eat a vegetable or two
  • Eating fried fish and drinking at two local restaurants. At one we befriended a shy young lady named Carson.
  • Listening to staffer Bruce's stories of hanging out with movie stars as they were filming at Botany Bay - Tim Roth, Jude Law to name two (there may have been only two)

Here are the drinks David made us.

  • Bijou (gin)
  • Floridita (rum)
  • Clover Club (gin)
  • Last Word (dry vermouth?)
  • Fairbanks (gin) - my favorite
  • Argentine Cocktail (gin)
  • Mulata (rum)
  • Agri Dolce (tequila) - group favorite

Check out more pictures at my Gallery

edisto porch botany bay tree

A week in July Part 1

I set off on a Saturday to spend a week in the South. My first stop was Columbia, SC to visit Karen, a friend from high-school who I had not been in contact with in 30 years (thank you, facebook). She had invited me to spend the night whenever I was heading down that way and I happily took her up on her offer. Karen and her husband Zach both teach at University of SC and live in a lovely renovated old house near the campus. They have a wonderful little urban farm with a garden and hens, quail, ducks and a rabbit (who sadly passed away this week).

It was a wonderful visit. Karen and Zach are wonderful hosts. We talked about then and now and everything in between. Karen and I looked through year books. When you have not seen somebody for 30 years most of the details go away but the defining memories remain. I remember Karen's smile, I remember that she drove her dad's old mercedes. I confessed to her that I thought I wasn't as cool as she was in high school and she said the same thing about me. Ahh, teenagers.

tios mexicanzach, karen, laura
We had a nice mexican dinner at Tios near the campus where the waiter was from Mongolia

karen and xach's duckshen house
Where the ducks and hens hang

Karen with fresh eggs and their cat Smoke

Sunday morning Zach and Karen fixed me fresh eggs from their hens and ducks and sent me on my way. i headed down I-95 to Savannah to visit Tommy, Sandy and Little T in their newly renovated place. My parents, Lynda and Graeme were also there. We all agreed that rhe changes made their place remarkably more spacious and filled with light. We ate warm chicken salad, bean casserole and Sandy's famous pound cake and watched a live video feed of the robots trying to plug the leak 1 mile below the surface in the Gulf on Mr. Pin's computer. We headed to Edisto early evening and got there in time to watch the sun set.

savannah bridge welcome bears
Welcome to Savannah
dad playing sax sandy and little T
spanish moss
A great gathering!

cloud spotting clousa spotted
Cloud spotting

June into July

If you have not seen pictures from Graeme's Graduation/Parent's birthday weekend go here now!
I did not include this nice picture of Graeme and Lynda's cat, Willow.


The local farmers market started. It is a block way. The first weekend I was front and center buying squash for our favorite chipotle squash casserole (which is like the Go Green and Gold! (high school colors) casserole we used to make in high school only with that pepper twist). Here is my favorite vendor.

van ness market vendor

I have not updated this blog recently because I was busy doing a music collage and video for Dana's new piece that was shown as one of the evening performances at the Smithsonian Folklife festival. The performance went well. Here you can see a bit of my video work on the TV. The piece is called "Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love". The other picture is of his piece "Island" that I took from side stage. I love that big fan!

DTSB&Co performance DTSB&Co performance

I took this picture of Dana's rehearsal mistress's baby Marie Elizabeth (my two middle names!) at one of Dana's rehearsals. She might be about 10 months old.

marie elizabeth

This past week/weekend I bought four new tires, cycled twice, took two long walks, did a little shopping, swam, watched fireworks from the balcony, saw 3 bats flying around near the balcony 2 nights in a row and prepared for my trip to Edisto next week (yay!).



Insincere Gay Guy

There is a fun store down in Cleveland Park called Wake Up, Little Suzie. It's been there for over 10 years and I have bought lots of stuff there for myself and as gifts. There are two people who have worked there since it opened - Susan the owner and a guy who we call Insincere Gay Guy. He will greet customers and thank you for buying stuff but that is about all the interaction he will offer. He will speak to customers if spoken to but it is obvious he does not want to and has no interest in what they say. He is not grumpy. He is just a snob. We have just laughed about it over the years.

We dropped by yesterday after not visiting for a couple of years. Susan recognized us, smiled us and said "Hi Guys". Insincere Gay Guy mumbled a greeting. I quickly found a Tshirt I had to have and was forced to ask Insincere Gay Guy if there was a larger size. He somewhat sarcastically showed me the label and explained that the cryptic writing let me know that it comes in Small and Medium and that the Small was there but the Medium was in the back. (he has gotten a little grumpy) I just smiled and asked if I could see the Medium. He said "of course" and went and got it for me. Joe was browsing nearby and said he was glad to see that things have not changed. I suspect that Susan heard at least part of the interaction and came over to tell me about the Tshirt artist and that I could try it on in the back room if I needed to. I bought the shirt and love it.

Here is a pic from the artist's site. The design is called Octopus Robots


Speaking of art the little girl on the 3rd floor has a new installation up on her door. I am not exactly sure what the point is but had to document it.

Multi-Purpose weekend

The first week of May we all gathered in Ediso/Charleston to celebrate/attend Lenore's birthday, Lynda's Dragon Boat Festival, Graeme's starring role in Hello Dolly and Mother's Day. Friday we hung out on the beach. Lyla almost went in the water but saw a jelly fish and that was that. It was T's shepard's pie for dinner which was delicious.

Saturday we went into Charleston to check out the farmers/craft Market at Marion Square and attend the Dragon Boat Festival. It was hot but at the river the breeze made it bearable. We ate chili at the George (my parent's in-town condo) and then went to see Graeme starring as Cornelius in Hello Dolly. Very enjoyable. Check out the videos on youtube.

Sunday we made potato pancakes for all the mothers - some with and without onions, some cooked in bacon grease, some in vegetable oil - all delicious. Sunday dinner was Lenore's birthday celebration with steak and poppy seed cake.

At some point we had a beer tasting with a selection from the local Piggly Wiggly. I think the New Castle Ale was the favorite

beer seleection

And we saw a squirrel resting in a tree and a chameleon.

chameleon resting squirrel

Check out more pics.

Lenore thinking of her wish

Evil little brother

We have a new member of our computer family. Joe bought a mini laptop from, you guessed it, Dell. No, for realsies, a Dell. He did however tear out the evil insides, replaced them with the Mac operating system and stuck an Apple sticker over the Dell emblem. It works really well and now we can video chat from opposite ends of the couch.

big and little laptop openbig and little laptop closed

Early Spring

The cherry blossoms were very nice this year.I did not go down to the tourist-heavy tidal basin but did enjoy the cherry trees and other spring plants in our neighborhood. I was so inspired I got my balcony plants in earlier than ever before.

grape hyacinth forsythia

crocus cherry

cherry blossom with talisman faucet
balcony leftbalcony right

Shrimp fries!

Actually I only ate one shrimp fry (or shrimp chip as the company that makes them seems to want to call them - they look like fries) but was thrilled that they were on the table. Austin, William, Lyla Tracy and I headed to Arlington to have dinner with Ellen and Sam. Ellen and Austin did all the cooking and Sam played bartender.

Ellen and Sam's friend Arthur joined us as well. And it was during dinner when Lyla and I were explaining to Sam about how our mother was Latvian and our father was Irish that Arthur stood up and quietly walked around the table to where Lyla and I were sitting, stood between us and asked if we said Latvian. After we turned, gave him a puzzled look and said "yes" he kissed us both on the cheek and said "Sveiks". As you can imagine we were amazed that someone knew the official Latvian greeting. It turns out Arthur used to date a Latvian girl. Alas it did not work out but he gained a clear understanding of what is important to Latvians. It also turns out that Sam and Arthur know another Latvian that swims at their pool.

After dinner we stood around and re-arranged T-shirts on the floor to help Tracy plan his Grateful Dead quilt that Austin is making. We also watched Apolo Ohno win a another medal. Ellen and Sam have a big rottweiler named Pepper who was very friendly and joined in the fun while we were there but started growling when we left. This was quite odd. I can only think that as a rescued dog he has abandonment issues, even with relative strangers.

But it was another wonderful event with Sam and Ellen.

shrimp chips
Shrimp fries!

ellen knittingwilliam getting contact photo
Ellen knitting and William taking a photo for his contacts list

sam serving winelyla and tracy with flowers
Sam serving a nice bottle of wine. Lyla and Tracy with tulips.

austin's veggieslyla's chopsticks
Austin's veggie dish. Lyla points her chopsticks at Arthur.

planning a quiltpepper the dog
Planning Tracy's Grateful Dead T-Shirt quilt. Pepper the friendly rottweiler with a pal

Ellen's frog collection.

Hearts and Action Figures

For Valentine's Day I made Joe a little heart pillow out of felt leftover from the Christmas Contest. Joe gave me a Shah Rukh Khan action figure (with two outfits!). He will join Jack Bauer in our ever increasing collection (we now have two) of action figures.

Gifts from the heart:

felt heart SRK action figure

The heart is about 4.5 inches tall. SRK is about 12 inches tall.

Three more

I took these Sunday over at the nearby Howard Law School.




Taking it to the Streets

Spent most of the morning puttering around the apartment shredding old bills, organizing my beads and marveling at the falling snow. We ventured out around 2:00 to get a bite to eat and then take a walk. Most sidewalks were not shovelled and since there were not too many cars most everyone was walking in the streets. We started our walk on plowed sidewalk but eventually the plowed area stopped and then the snow was knee deep. As we re-crossed Connecticut Ave to head home a convoy of plows went by led by police directing people over a loud speaker to get off the street.

street scene little girl
Street walkers and a cute girl eating her lunch

hidden benchesbirch and evergreens
Hidden park benches and a birch tree among the evergreens

Joe's pictures are below
blow coat with skissnow boy
An inexperienced cross-country skier in a crazy blue coat and a little boy having fun

laura knee deep in yellow coatdump truck
An inexperienced cross country skier (luckily I wasn't trying) in a yellow coat and a snow plow with an emblem - a mouse next to the words "Big Papa".

Snow Season

It's been a snowy winter. So far it has been manageable, which means I have not had to drive in it. This past week it snowed a heavy wet snow overnight and the next morning the sun came up and created a wonderful mist in the trees behind our building. It looked pretty cool. As I write this the snow is falling or rather whipping around with high winds. Over 20 inches have been predicted. You'll probably see more pictures soon.


Burning Christmas trees

I drove to Todd on Martin Luther King Memorial weekend to spend time with Susan and Susan and David and Lane and Andrea and Hunter in the mountains of NC. Lane drove with me which was great since I get sleepy after about 30 minutes of driving. It did not snow but there was plenty of snow on the ground. There was a fair amount of mist which was cold and raw but enjoyable as well. Susan's living room stove keeps her place quite cozy. The highlight of the weekend was the bonfire we made that took a long time to get going but we found that if you throw enough stuff on it (including gasoline) you can not only get it going but it will burn in the pouring rain. We also enjoyed two special cocktails from David's travelling bar, homemade pancakes and Thai food at a restaurant down the mountain in Boone.

There are more pictures here.




Christmas Contest 2009

Congratulations to first place winner Graeme Rock! Check it out.


The Great Snowfall of 2009

Got a day off work! The snow started Friday night December 18 and snowed for most of the next day. Friday night Brooke, Marcia and I ate a new restaurant in my neighborhood that I have been wanting to try, It was quite nice. Good food, nice wine. They also have a nice selection of beers so we'll have to go back. Joe and I took a walk Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Saturday we walked through a couple of parks near the embassies and then helped a guy in a Mini Cooper trying to go pick up his wife. The snow kept building up in front of his car. The snow had not been cleared from the parking lots at work so they gave us the day off.